Weddings in Westeros aren’t known for being the Best Day Ever! that so many couples aspire towards. Mass murders, poisonings, duels to the death, forced marriages for political gain - none were what we’d call “blog-worthy” (unless you’re writing for Mercenary Weekly). Despite their bloodshed, these failed celebrations do offer some useful lessons to those of us planning weddings outside the the Seven Kingdoms.
Make Nice with Your Mother in Law (Purple Wedding) There are a few lessons to be had from the short, doomed wedding of Joffrey Baratheon to Margaery Tyrell, such as don’t make fun of your uncle’s physical challenges, be careful what you drink and don’t be a jerk (although it’s pretty hard for anyone to be a dirtbag on the scale of Joffrey).
For our purposes, let’s focus on Margaery and her mother-in-law, Queen Cersei. If ever there was a relationship that summarized the power shift between a bride and her MIL, it’s this one. Conniving, contriving Cersei is worried her daughter-in-law will usurp her power as queen so tries to undermine the bride to remind her who is really the boss. During the wedding meal, Margaery asks that the leftover food been handed out to the city’s poor. Cersei, being true to form, secretly overrides the bride’s request, ordering that the food be given to the dogs instead.
So, what’s the lesson here? Understand that there IS a power shift happening when you marry a woman’s son, even if she’s not royalty. A mother has always been the first woman in her son’s life and now that dynamic is about to change. While most women can deal with it gracefully, some don’t and see the bride as “the other woman”. Many mothers don’t realize they are being a total Cersei, since the hostility is coming from a place deep within the subconscious.
What to do? Try to show that you’re not a threat. Include your MIL in the wedding planning, in whatever capacity. Is she a wine expert? Ask her to help you with the bar choices. If she has a flair for flowers, invite her along to your flower meeting. After the wedding, try to keep a standing dinner date with her and your husband, say one Sunday per month, so she doesn’t feel like she’s losing her son but rather gaining a daughter.
Be Careful with the Guest List (Red Wedding) Undoubtedly the bloodiest wedding of them all, the wedding of Roslin Frey and Edmure Tully was one that the Starks should have sent back their RSVP as “with regrets”. During the wedding feast, the father of the bride, Lord Walder Frey, slaughtered the guests as revenge for King Robb Stark cancelling his prior marriage plans to the lovely Roslin.
Worse. Wedding. Ever.
Puts those worries about the bridesmaids dresses not matching the napkins into perspective.
Had Robb used his head to think “hey, it’s my cousin’s wedding to my old girlfriend whom I dumped for another girl who is now my queen and carrying my baby so maybe I should give it a miss” he probably wouldn’t have lost it to be displayed on a spike.
The lesson Never leave your wedding plans in the hands of your nefarious father in law.
OK, just kidding (or not).
The lesson is be careful about who you invite. While it’s highly improbable that you’d invite an ex as a plot to mass murder their family, it’s awkward to have a former flame on the guest list. There is enough stress on the day without having a past lover in the mix, causing whispers and raised eyebrows from the rest of the guests. Even if your significant other says they’re fine with it, they likely aren’t.
What to do? Carefully think about who you’re asking to attend. Even if you’re keeping the former beaus off the list, you might have guests who have issues with each other or someone who could cause some kind of situation. Weddings have a way of making people go a bit crazy. Throw in an open bar and you could have a potential drama-rama on your hands. Is having the guest(s) in question worth adding that stress to your day?
Know Your Crowd (Silver Wedding) The craziest party ever was the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen to the Dothraki Khal Drogo, a Bacchanalia that would have made Caligula blush. Duels to the death, nudity, various couplings - as one observer noted, a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is a dull affair. The bride, not being Dothraki, was mortified but had to go with the flow since she hadn’t planned the shindig.
The lesson: Know your peeps. What works for someone’s wedding might not work for yours. What went down at Dany’s celebration would have been scandalous anywhere else in the Seven Kingdom whereas a typical Westeros wedding would have been dull as dishwater to the Dothraki.
What to do? Keep a balance between your personal tastes and what would appeal to your guests. Yes, it’s your day but as soon as you’ve invited others to celebrate with you, their comfort has to be taken into account. You may loooooove club music but playing it all night will probably see the older folks make an early exit. Tuna might be your favorite food ever but serving it as the only dinner option will leave guests hungry since not everyone likes fish. Have what you like but mix it up with things that will appeal to the rest of the guests to ensure everyone has a great time.
Here’s to lessons from these failed royal weddings making your wedding an epic success.
Want more helpful planning ideas? Head over to The Lazy Bride where we have more wedding tips than the North has White Walkers.